ISLAMABAD: It appears that the Ministry Of Climate Change (MoCC) attaches little importance to Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi’s orders as it has sent unapproved participants to represent the country in the all-important Annual Conference of Parties (COP23).
The Prime Minister’s Office had expressed its displeasure over the inclusion of unapproved names in the list of participants who would represent the country in Bonn, Germany at government and donor expense.
In a letter, a copy of which is available to The Express Tribune, the PM office had directed MoCC secretary Syed Abu Ahmad Akif to identify individuals who were not approved by the prime minister and have been sent to Germany along with the sanctioned officers.
The premier’s office has also sought a detailed report from the secretary within 24 hours and directed him to personally explain the reasons for this blatant violation of the PM’s orders.
The letter also stated that the MoCC should sense that donor funding means a licence to participate, and that the purposeless participation of unrelated individuals creates serious embarrassment and liabilities for Pakistan at international forums.
According to details, on August 25 the MoCC sent a list of 10 officers on government funding, 11 officers on donor funding, and 25 other persons on self-funding to the PM office for approval to participate in COP 23, which began on November 7. Later, the MoCC sent a revised list which included at least 18 officers who would be traveling and staying on government expense.
After the PM took strong notice of the apparent junkets, the ministry replied that this change had happened due to the change of powers of the minister via a cabinet division decision dated August 4. It said that under the decision, the minister had been provided full authority to allow all officers working in their ministries and autonomous bodies to allow visits to friendly countries.
The order also stated that the expenses of such visits could be managed within already-allocated budgets, the ministry said in its reply to the prime minister.
The further correspondence revealed that when the revised summary was placed before the prime minister on November 1, the premier had expressed displeasure after finding that certain government officials’ whose names were excluded on his orders – as they would have served no useful purpose – were approved for participation by the ministry under donor funding.
The PM office had also told the ministry that the participation of a large delegation was inappropriate, given that the government was supposed to be enforcing an austerity policy. It had also directed the MoCC to drop the names of all provincial secretaries, MoCC Deputy Secretary Saleem Khattak, Section Officer Afshan Sabir, and 12 ‘journalists’.
Apart from these names, the correspondence also shows that a controversy between the PM Office and the MoCC had persisted till the last day, particularly on the participation of the minister’s Personal Staff Officer (PSO) Muhammad Fayyaz and Public Relations Officer (PRO) Zile Huma. Fayyaz was also one of the individuals who, after being removed from the government funding, was authorised to travel under donor funding.
The secretary in a separate letter, when asked about the two individuals, admitted that under cabinet division’s rules, the personal staff of the minister was not authorised to travel with him. However, the secretary stated that they had included the PSO’s name since Climate Change Minister Mushahidullah Khan had verbally directed MoCC officials to include Fayyaz as he cannot travel alone due to health reasons.
Secretary Akif, in the same reply, also said that Huma’s name was included despite the PM office’s direction to drop it because the minister issued verbal and written orders. He added that the PRO was barred from travelling once her name was removed for the second time.
Minister for Climate Change Senator Mushahidullah Khan on Sunday left for Bonn to attend the COP23, which runs from November 6 to November 17.